“Mothering Myself” by Nancy McBrine Sheehan
In a society preoccupied with how best to raise a child I’m finding a need to mesh what’s best for my children with what’s necessary for a well balanced mother. I’m recognizing that ceaseless giving translates into giving yourself away. And when you give yourself away, you’re not a healthy mother and you’re not a healthy self.
So, now I’m learning to be a woman and a mother. I’m learning how to just experience my own emotions without robbing my children of their individual dignity by feeling their emotions too. I’m learning that a healthy child will have his own set of emotions and characteristics that are his alone. And, very different from mine. I’m learning the importance of honest exchanges of feelings because pretenses don’t fool children, they know their mother better than she knows herself.
I’m learning that no one overcomes her past unless she confronts it. Otherwise, her children will absorb exactly what she’s trying to overcome. I’m learning that words of wisdom fall on deaf ears if my actions contradict my deeds. Children tend to be better impersonators than listeners.
I’m learning that life is meant to be filled with as much pain as happiness and pleasure. And allowing ourselves to feel everything life has to offer is an indicator of fulfillment. I’m learning that fulfillment can’t be attained through giving myself away-but through giving to myself and sharing with others.
I’m learning that the best way to teach my children to live a fulfilling life is not by sacrificing my life. It’s through living a fulfilling life myself. I’m trying to teach my children that I have a lot to learn because I’m learning that letting go of them is the best way of holding on.
I came across this poem maybe a decade ago when reading Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom; Creating Physical and Emotional Heath and Healing by Christiane Northrup, M.D. Every cell of my being screamed yes while I soaked up the words like a sponge. It is not selfish or indulgent to take care of ourselves and want to heal our past hurts, hang ups, and old wounds. Maybe it is selfish not to. It seemed like something I wanted to return to as a mother.
And return I do. Often.
This morning my babysitter came to watch the baby so I could exercise and run errands aka spend too much money at various stores. But the minute she walked through my front door, I felt like was about to crumble to the floor into a heap of pure exhaustion. So you know what I did? I said, “F off errands, I’ll get to you another day.” I took off my sneakers and my confining exercise top with the built in bra situation, strolled into my bedroom, shut the blinds, turned on the white noise machine, and climbed back into bed. It felt rebellious and glorious and so good. And my two hour nap was complete with a dream featuring a magical baby miniature horse and crunchy carrots. An added bonus!
Taking care of ourselves may mean saying yes to sleep and no to errands. It may mean a trip to the therapist or the spa.Whatever it means to you, do it without guilt and enjoy yourself!
Because you are worth it and you deserve it!
Happy Mother’s Day and Happy Mothering Day!